All You Need to Know About Time Limits

Appealing a Decision from The Magistrates Court. 

Any Defendant has the right to appeal a decision made at the Magistrates Court. The Defendants has 15 business days (or 21 days) to appeal a decision from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court. The time limit begins on the day of your last hearing. For example, if you were sentenced on 1st February, you would have until the 21st February to appeal this decision. It’s important to remember if you were convicted on a different date to the date you were sentenced you must keep these dates in mind. If you are appealing against your conviction this must be done within 21 days (15 business days) following the date you were convicted, not from you sentencing hearing. 

It is possible to lodge an out of time appeal and there is a section within the appeal form, which allows you the opportunity to provide the reasons your appeal is late. It is completely at the Crown Court’s discretion as to whether they allow an out of time decision to go ahead, so it is important to explain your position in depth. 

Single Justice Procedure Notice

You must respond to your Single Justice Procedure Notice within 21 days of the notice being served. This means you need to respond to your notice within 21 days of the date on your letter, not the date you actually received the notice. If no response is received or an out of date response is submitted, your case may be heard in your absence. 

Summary Offences

For all offences that can only be tried in the Magistrates Court, such as driving whilst using a mobile phone or speeding charges, you must have been notified on the charge within six calendar months since the offence took place. This is set out within Section 127 of The Magistrates Court Act 1980, which states ‘ (1) Except as otherwise expressly provided by any enactment and subject to subsection (2) below, a magistrates’ court shall not try an information or hear a complaint unless the information was laid, or the complaint made, within 6 months from the time when the offence was committed, or the matter of complaint arose.’.

This means the Police need to authorise the charges within a 6 month period. If the Police do this within the correct time frame, but the letter takes longer to reach you, this would not necessarily mean the offence is out of time. The 6 month time limitation begins the day after your offence took place. For example, if your offence took place on 1st May,  then the first day of your time limitation would be 2nd May. 

There is no time limitation for triable either way offences or an indictable offence which is to be heard at Crown Court. An example of this is a charge of Dangerous Driving. 

Fixed Penalty Notice

A Fixed Penalty Notice or FPN is used very commonly for cases that involve speeding or traffic light contraventions. A fixed penalty notice will normally outline a conditional offer, for example 3 penalty points and £100 fine. 

A Fixed Penalty Notice allows the matter to be resolved without either party (Defence or Prosecution)  having to attend court. It’s important to note however, if you accept a Fixed Penalty notice, you cannot negotiate your penalty further as acceptance of this offer is final. You have 28 days to decide on whether you wish to accept or refuse your conditional offer. It’s important to note that if you reject your Conditional Offer, the offer will be withdrawn and you could face a higher punishment upon your conviction. 

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